global health weekly news

February 29 2016

Good morning,

Happy leap year Monday!

global health

A new report shows that the HPV vaccine, introduced ten years ago, has already reduced the virus's prevalence in teenage girls by almost two-thirds. Even in women in their 20's (who have lower vaccination rates), the most dangerous strains of HPV have been reduced by more than a third. This news will likely be encouraging in the US and around the world to get more people (men and women) to get this vaccine. Roughly 14 million people in the U.S. alone become infected each year with HPV, which at its worse, and not uncommonly, can lead to cancer. Rwanda already has a 93% immunization rate in girls, much better than here.

Here's the PDF of the report that was just released on HPV prevalence in the US following the vaccination program, which started in 2006.

A new treatment of Ebola has passed its first test by protecting monkeys from the virus several days after the animals were infected. Early trials show that treatment with the antibody developed almost complete protection up to five days post infection.

Here is an interesting piece on water-smart cities. The Guardian presents five innovative cities that are managing, protecting and conserving water supplies. The winners are:

1) Bangalore, India

2) Cape Town, South Africa

3) Sorocaba, Brazil

4) Beira, Mozambique

5) Lima, Peru

My favorite is Cape Town, which over the past 15 years has managed to reduce water use by 30%, despite a population increase of 30% over the same period, through both social change and use of creative technology.

Fairtrade is a social movement that seeks to offer farmers and workers better prices and decent working conditions as long as they meet a set of minimum labour and environmental standards. More than 450 Fairtrade farmers and delegates from about 50 countries gathered in Nairobi last week for a convention to discuss the Fairtrade system, which now includes about 1.5 million farmers and workers from across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the overall retail value of the UK Fairtrade market, the world’s biggest market, fell to about £1.6bn in 2015, from £1.7bn in 2014, largely due to a decline in the price of sugar, and now El Nino's effects are being compounded as well. But despite continued turbulence in the UK grocery sector, volumes of Fairtrade tea, coffee, cocoa, bananas, flowers and wine all grew in 2015 by healthy margins as consumers supported the sector. The Foundation remained “cautiously optimistic” over the outlook for 2016.


Early last week, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited Burundi, and says Nkurunziza has promised to hold political talks, to lift media restrictions, and that 2,000 prisoners will be freed.

Five African leaders representing the African Union arrived in Burundi Thursday to press Mr. Nkurunziza to negotiate with the opposition.

As of Saturday, the Union has confirmed it will send 100 human rights monitors and 100 military monitors to Burundi.


The British are making a huge change in their lifestyle: croissants in Britain will no longer be curved, but straight. While this may sound trivial to some, it was important enough to get a headline in the New York Times recently. The French are seeing this as a huge snub, related to British voters potentially deciding in a referendum to leave the European Union. The English supermarket chain only offered a decidedly British rationale: It is easier to spread jam on the straight variety. Stay tuned to see how the croissant feud will develop.
Have a wonderful beginning of March. It is almost starting to feel like Spring.